DrCorchit

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #10

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Feint Cavalry

Ah, here it is. The elusive “Adrenaline” keyword, not seen seen since the release of the Way of the Witcher expansion. Using Feint Cavalry, you can put extra pressure on your opponent in round 1, either defending on blue or forcing your opponent to commit harder than they’d like on red. The obvious downside of this card is the fact that you can only play four cards. Play a fifth card, and all those juicy boosts disappear.

It might seem reasonable to buff this unit’s adrenaline condition to 4, but that allows this card to be used to tempo ahead and possibly gain card advantage on red. Remember, if you pass with five cards left on redcoin, your opponent has only 4. This means that if you are ahead after five cards, your opponent can’t regain card advantage even with a drypass. This card is more of a tool to force a long round three than to gain card advantage. Thus, the adrenaline condition must stay at five.

Original art is linked here.

False Flag

A false flag operation is when you stage an attack against yourself and then blame some other party for the attack. It’s like punching yourself in the face and then going to your dad and saying “Billy did that!” so that your dad goes and beats up Billy. For an example of a real false flag operation that was performed by the USA, click here or here to read about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. In that case, the US military pretended that an allied ship was attacked so that the American people would rally to support the war effort, allowing them to justify their planned attack on North Vietnam. America basically went full Nilfgaard on that one.

This card lets you put a card in your enemy’s graveyard. Preferably you’ll want to put Vypper, but I also thought of a 200 IQ combo where you put Count Caldwell in your opponent’s graveyard. If your opponent passes and they have no units taller than 12 points, you can use Gorthur Gvaed to put Caldwell on top of your opponent’s deck, and then summon him with Tibor Eggebracht for a 23 point swing. Very dastardly.

This card can also put Ard Feainn Tortoise or Nilfgaardian Knight in your graveyard for 7-8 points of damage. In those cases, this is a worse Bekker’s Rockslide but with the upside of thinning, as well as the fact that you control the amount damage.

Finding the original art source for this one was a little tricky, but this might clear things up.

Azarazar

Ah, yes. Evil Yoda. Fun fact: there’s like 5 different ways to say this guy’s name. I’m going with Az-er-uh-zar.

This card gives you a massive amount of points, but also plays very heavily into tall punish and generates negative carryover. If you’re forced to play this card from hand at the end of a round 2 bleed, you’re almost certainly very screwed.

I have to be honest, this card in its current form is way too strong as can easily play for 30 or more points with minimal setup. It’s going to be used as last say, making it unanswerable in most cases. Although its always important to get last say, the penalty for failing to do so shouldn’t be so severe.

Given the above, I still think its an interesting ability and can be fixed in a number of ways. For example, we might give it initiative to prevent it being tutored from deck. We also might limit the number of targets to three or four. It could become an order ability like Mourntart, though this would necessitate the use of Petri’s Philter. We might also limit the ability to bronze units, though even this would be oppressive.

Original art is linked here. Apparently this really is evil Yoda.

Klappermaw

Klappermaw is a robust gold thrive card that provides scalable removal in a long round. He’s also an alternative target for Caranthir if Koschey is missed, and can stand on his own feet if played in a different round from Koschey. At 6 power, he’s just strong enough to thrive Koschey while also having his own thrive triggered by popular 7-power thrive units such as Kikimore Worker and Aen Elle Conqueror.

Until Klappermaw’s order is used, each point of armor on him is worth 2 points, making it potentially worthwhile to consider buffing him with Armory. From the opponent’s perspective, it might be worthwhile to damage his armor to prevent him from getting his order off.

Klappermaw’s main weakness is lock. He trades even with Korathi Heatwave and is very difficult to remove via damage. He’s not amazing tempo, so it’s wise to decide whether to commit him fairly early in a round. All in all, a solid card but not inordinately oppressive.

Original art is linked here.

Loki

Although Loki isn’t a part of Skelligan mythology as far as I know, I felt comfortable giving him a custom card due to his place in the Norse pantheon.

Here, Loki acts as a sort of Wabbajack (Y’all played Skyrim right?) that transforms highly boosted enemy units into random units. His intended use is to place Mischief on a high-powered enemy unit, wait until it transforms into something useless, and then purify it to ensure that it doesn’t do anything scary like transform into Damien de la Tour or Gezras of Leyda.  This ability is complicated so I’ll explain its interactions in more detail.

Mischief is a status, and status effects are processed after end-of-turn abilities for a card register. If you give Mischief to Gezras of Leyda, he’ll move to another row one more time before he turns into a chicken. If you give it to Damien de la Tour, he’ll still be able to activate his order ability. Thus, Mischief isn’t usually very effective as a lock. I will note that status effects are processed before counters, meaning that Loki does counteract cards like Stregobor and Ciri: Dash.

Since Mischief uses the transformation mechanic, it means that the old card is removed from the game permanently. Loki can be used to effectively banish cards like Madoc and Crowmother, especially if those cards are boosted. Their power will change to the base power of the new unit, which may not be ideal, however. In fact, playing Loki onto an allied card such as Madoc may be a viable strategy if you don’t intend to play any more bombs. In this case, you’ll want to use purify to stop the transformations once something useful appears.

Original art is linked here.

Face Stealer

In a typical Gwent match, you play your cards and end your turn, whereupon your Nilfgaardian opponent’s turn begins and they also play your cards. In fact, there’s room for debate whether there are really six factions in Gwent because everything–from Vysogota of Corvo to The Great Oak–is actually a Nilfgaardian card if you assimilate hard enough.

Face Stealer is no exception. He ensures that all the gold cards on your opponent’s board find a nice and cozy spot in your deck, where they can be replayed in later rounds to devastating effect.

This card has some interesting interactions worthy of note, by the way. First, it can easily transform Mage Assassins into cards that aren’t summoned from deck, which makes them unlikely to be included in the same deck as Face Stealer. Second, it can put enemy bronzes in deck, thereby enabling the use of tutors from your opponent’s faction. Stealing Amphibious Assault via Double Cross suddenly becomes a viable strategy. And finally, this card has considerable antisynergy with Fercart, which gives spying at random, often to tokens.

As you can see, not all of these interactions are positive. My goal is not to show that the card is weak or strong, but merely that it is very interesting.

Original art is linked here.

Sabrina: Schemer

Honest to god, Sabrina Glevissig deserves a better card than the scene of when she’s on the pyre. About to burn to death over petty political squabbles? Not a good look for such an impressive and powerful sorceress. I contend that Sabrina should get a real card, and that the current Sabrina card should be renamed to Sabrina: Pyre.

Much like Face Stealer, this card truly enables some truly impressive 200 IQ bigbrain plays. It requires a sharp knowledge of Northern Realms engines and their provision costs, as well. For example, John Natalis can become Draug if boosted by 5. Five provision units boosted by 1 can become Kerack Frigates, Alumni, or Vincent Meis on a good day. And Lyrian Scytheman can become Foltest, Falibor, or even Gerhart of Aelle with enough luck.

Note that if there’s no card of a specified provision level, the card won’t transform. So you can’t boost a 9 provision unit by 5 and get a 14, because Northern Realms has no 14 provision units. The highest provision card in NR is Draug, so everything becomes Draug eventually. The easiest way to get Draug is to simply boost Sabrina by 1, forcing her to transform herself.

Original art is linked here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #9

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Vigi The Loon

Fun fact: You haven’t lived until you’ve played the Witcher 3 and met Vigi the Loon. For those who have never had a chance to play the Witcher 3, the quest “The Lord of Undvik” follows Hjalmar An Craite and his men as they hunt the frost giant Myrhyff. At a certain point, Geralt discovers that one of Hjalmar’s best fighters–Vigi–has been trapped in a cage in the giant’s lair.  Once Geralt gains the key, Hjalmar warns him not to free Vigi until Myrhyff is defeated. Of course, I disregarded this warning purely for curiosity’s sake. I wasn’t disappointed when Vigi immediately ran up and promptly kicked Myrhyff in the head, awakening him so he could give Hjalmar’s men a proper battle. By comparison, Hjalmar’s plan to kill the giant in his sleep now seemed rather cowardly.

Truly, this man was balls-to-the-walls insane, so obsessed with proving his valor in battle that even his fellow Skelligers correctly identified his condition as lunacy. Such a character is more than deserving of a Gwent card, solely due to how memorable he was.

Original art source is here.

Tavern

Heroes and travelers of every stripe gather in taverns every night to sing, cavort with maidens, and get utterly drunk. After all, why else would they bother to delve into dungeons littered with ungodly abominations, traps, and ego-maniacal wizards? There’s gotta be a payoff somewhere, right?

Simply put, Tavern allows you to play two bronze cards in one turn. The astute Gwentleman can use this card to put two engines onto the battlefield at once, protect a scenario from Heatwave, or play poison twice in one turn. In retrospect, I’ve proably created this card too cheap by one or two provisions, even without the deck condition.

The deploy condition rewards decks for excluding four provision cards. My intention is to provide a powerful payoff to compensate for the reduced deck polarization. Even if this card is never added to Gwent, it would be interesting to see this unique deckbuilding condition some day.

Original art source is here.

Nirvana

In Buddhism, “Nirvana” means “No wind”. Meaning, the end of struggle as one transcends the physical world of conflicting desires and attains enlightenment. As a wise man once said: “Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise out of the mud.”

In Gwent, however, “Nirvana” means “No units”, because with a card like this, you probably aren’t playing any. And given the sheer number of bombs you’ll be playing, your opponent won’t have any units either. The only unit that matters after this is the juicy Gord you’re going to be dropping with last say. How’s that for enlightenment?

Original art source is here.

Fallen Seana

Although Seana (Pronounced shay-nah) is not a character from the witcher books or games, she has an interesting story nonetheless. Seana was banished from her clan after being falsely accused of killing her own son. She swore to track down his true killer, eventually tracking down a band of pirates and their captain–the boy’s own father. Enraged and frustrated beyond reason, she ran him through with her sword, whereupon the ship’s crew fired upon her with arrows. She fell face down in the snow, a triumphant grin on her face as she quietly bled out. Her son avenged and her honor proven, Seana proudly died a warrior’s death.

In Gwent, Seana appears as a major support for the self-wounding archetype. A current weakness of self-wound is that the payoff cards like Bear Witcher Mentor and Giant Boar play heavily into tall removal. This allows significant counterplay against a strategy that already requires fairly complicated setup. Because Seana doesn’t play tall, she provides a much more robust payoff.

It appears that this work of art was uploaded to DeviantArt and ArtStation and later deleted. You can still view the original image here.

Ciri: Destiny

A recurring theme in the Witcher novels is the notion of two individuals connected by destiny. This theme is explored notably between Geralt and Ciri, as well as between Geralt and Yennefer and Duny and Pavetta. Heck, even Eskel had a child of destiny named Deidre Ademeyn. Personally, I don’t believe in destiny. I don’t mean to say that two individuals can never share a special connection. Rather, I view destiny as a distraction from the aspects of my life that I can change.

This card directly counters the removal meta, which renders many other engine cards unplayable. Due to its immunity, this card allows you to gain passive points while forcing your opponent to play proactively. The resilience helps the card recover some value if it defends a round 2 bleed and justifies its low floor, but also means that it cannot be used to obstruct a round 2 drypass like other resilience units.

Original art source is here.

Alluring Lamia

Yes, she has enormous bazonkas. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss her ability and see whether she’s worth 13 provisions.

Alluring Lamia has a consume on cooldown, which is similar to Slyzard. But if you think that this card is essentially a weaker Slyzard with immunity, you’re missing the mark. Because she spawns and plays a copy of herself, she also triggers thrives and activates relict synergies with Selfeater and Rat Catcheress.

Triggering thrive every turn is extremely important when attempting to play cards like Koschey and Kikimore Queen, as these cards tend to be removed quickly. By thriving them on the turn they are played, their abilities can be triggered instantly.

Her immunity means that she doesn’t play into tall punish nearly as hard as Slyzard does. And of course, she also allows you to trigger the abilities of deathwish cards before they are locked or banished.

On the downside, she plays for 1 tempo initially, is horrible in a short round, and high bleedable. Also, her 13 provisions is high enough to exclude her from most Viy decks. Though her drawbacks are substantial, such weaknesses are crucial in order to balance a card like this.

The uncropped, original version of the art is here.

Fortress

What’s the difference between a castle and a fortress? According to some guy on a forum somewhere, a castle is a special type of fortress that houses members of the aristocracy, anywhere from a lowly baron to the monarch himself. Thus, all castles are forts, but not all forts are castles. Probably.

This fortress was likely built by Redanian forces in order to hold off Nilfgaardian invaders. In terms of gameplay, it establishes crew pockets, provides flexible tempo, and allows for carryover. Realistically, this card is going to be appearing in Pincer Maneuver Seige decks, providing extra value for cards like Battering Ram and Foltest’s Pride.

The the uncropped, original version of the art is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #8

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Smash 'n Grab

Much like the real-world crime of the same name, this card is designed to provide instant value with little to no setup. Like Graden, it allows for the unconditional removal of any unit with a bounty, even if highly boosted or armored. Unlike Graden, this card can often play for its provisions even without any bounty. Additionally, it can act as a same-turn removal against a number of threats, as long as they are neither boosted nor armored. Due to its high floor, this card would probably still be playable at 10 provisions.

The original art source can be found here, on ArtStation.

Cintrian Bride

 The Northern Realms boast among their ranks a number of valiant souls who stare bravely into the face of danger and stand toe-to-toe with Nilfgaard’s toughest knights. But there is another side to Northern Realms, and a reason their soldiers have for risking their lives so fearlessly. For without wives, lovers, and families, what reason would they have to fight? This card is for those women. And men, too. I’m sure that Ves has a sweetheart somewhere, for whose embrace she longs for while on the battlefield. Well, besides Geralt.

Cintrian Bride is designed to synergize with Amphibious Assault and act as both an engine and a finisher. Optimally, one would play her at the end of a long round, just before Lyrian Scytheman is dropped. On the other hand she can be an awful card in a short round, but this is intentionally part of her design.

The original source of the art can be found here, on ArtStation.

Crazed Bear

Sometimes I wish Skellige had a card with the Consume ability. The faction’s graveyard focused identity means that they often want to move units to their discard pile quickly. Since they already have the ability to discard units from hand or deck, I don’t think it’s a stretch to give them the ability to move units from the board to the graveyard.

This card’s design is fairly simple, and it can be low tempo on the turn it is played. However, its primary purpose is not as a tempo play, but as a carryover card. When it destroys a unit with high base strength like Jutta An Dimun or Melusine, it becomes a prime target for Sigrdrifa’s Rite – but unfortunately also for your opponent’s Korathi Heatwave or Yennefer’s Invocation. Ouch.

Good card design is hard.

The original art source is here, on ArtStation.

Chappelle

Chappelle was the éminence grise of Hierarch Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart and the head of Novigrad’s secret service. I don’t actually know what an éminence grise is, but it sounds pretty scary and I honestly don’t think I want to find out.

This card provides delayed tempo that proves quite difficult to disrupt. He can be locked or banished, but other than that, he’s a reliable 14 point play. There is also some synergy with Tatterwing, for what it’s worth. Sadly, if this card were printed, it probably wouldn’t make Firesworn more viable, but would probably end up in the latest flavor-of-the-month Syndicate midrange deck instead.

It looks like the art was drawn by Mitchell Malloy, who deleted the original from their ArtStation account. You can still view the original art on Pinterest, here.

Kvletta

Kvletta supports the self damage archetype by providing a substantial payoff when there are a large number of damaged allied units. She naturally synergizes with self damage cards such as Bear Witcher and Heymaey Spearmaiden, as well as Haern Caduch. However, her low floor and high provision cost could let her brick significantly in a short round.

I’ve always been intrigued by the self-damage archetype in Skellige, and would like to see it shine someday. Part of the problem the archetype is facing currently, is that many of the payoff cards play into tall removal. A card like Kvletta would change that, helping to push self-wounding into relevance.

The original art source for this card is here, on Pinterest.

Fergus Graem

You may recall Fergus Graem as the dwarven blacksmith at Crow’s Perch. Although he posed as a master of his craft, it was later revealed that it was his assistant, Yoanna, who possessed all the talent. Fergus had leveraged his Dwarven privilege to obtain employment, as it were. I felt that the temporary tempo ability fit this character, since he turned out to be a total poser.

This card explores the concept of temporary tempo. It’s most useful when attempting to prevent Red Coin Abuse, though it can also be used during a bleed. Finally, the Barricade ability allows the card to avoid its downside, making it potentially a decent value play.

The original art can be found here, on artist Dean Spencer’s personal website.

Armistice

As much as I hate playing against Mill decks, the archetype is undeniably part of Nilfgaard’s faction identity. Therefore I present to you Armistice, an extremely unique card with a distinctly Nilfgaardian flair. However, this isn’t just  something that would find value in a Mill deck. In fact, it has a number of carefully thought out synergies with Soldiers, Spies, Assimilate, Hyperthin, and even Tactics.

Since it summons a unit to the melee row, it automatically creates a target for Alba Pikemen. Furthermore, it provides double thinning without playing into the opponent’s tall punish, and would be a worthwhile addition to Hyperthin lists. And since it places a bronze unit on the board, it guarantees a target for Dutchess’s Informant.

In general, good targets would be either Ard Feainn Tortoise, Nilfgaardian Knight, Impera Enforcers, or Alba Pikemen. Summoning two engines and boosting them with Imperial Formation or just two high tempo bronze cards could be an extremely strong play indeed.

The original art source is here, on ArtStation.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #7

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Willbreaker

You know, there ain’t much to tell about this guy. You have locked units, he damages ’em. You have hair, he makes you pull it out. Classic Nilfgaard stuff. You know, I really think we need more engines like this, that act as payoff for completing a specific task that involves a good deal of setup. What do we get instead? Point-vomit relicts and an Alzur that can be fully procc’d in one turn. Yuck.

Credit for the art goes to Andre Riabovitchev on Artstation.

Valkyrie

Since we’re still in the removal meta, all bronze engines are sweating pretty hard on that first turn they come down. Even the ones with 6 strength. This card would be no exception, as it generates carryover while also adding a bit of extra removal for your bronze raids and whatever unga bunga damage your Skellige deck is throwing at your opponent. Personally, I think that this card is close to the ideal for a Skellige bronze. It’s an engine, it gets decent value even when locked or in a short round, and it generates carryover on Harald the Cripple by strengthening itself.

This appears to be the original art source.

Lambert: Prick

Lambert was such an interesting character in the Witcher 3 that I think it’s really a shame that he has only one Gwent card. Technically two, but I don’t think the triptych ability really counts.

The astute Gwent player will recall that Lambert: Swordmaster damages all copies of a unit by 2, making it a devastating tech card that still functions as a decent value play against most opponents. I don’t have any problem with this card, but I don’t think it really fits Lambert or his perpetual snark. The beauty to the right, on the other hand? Perfection.

I think that this card’s strength could really go up to 6. It’s substantial downside means that it has potential to backfire, except versus Berserk-focused Skellige decks or maybe unitless Scoia’tael, provided it doesn’t mess up their Harald Gord.

Nosk

Among the dead and dying archetypes scattered throughout the Gwent deckbuilder, one that catches my eye from time to time is Plague Maiden and Monsters rat swarm. One of Plague Maiden‘s most serious issues is that fact that she essentially clogs an entire row, making it easy for her lead to overswarming in a long round. In addition, over time she’s become understatted, making her the opposite of an autoinclude. A not-oinclude? I don’t even know anymore.

This guy’s purpose is to breath life into Plague Maiden by allowing her to set up an extremely oppressive combo. Additionally, he connects Deathwish to the Sabbath keyword and makes Nightwraith into a key bronze instead of worthless filler. All good stuff, in my opinion.

Oh by the way, the dude’s name is taken from a boss in a game called Hollow Knight. You should give it a try, if you never have. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Original art is here.

Nilfgaardian Embassy

That the Nilfgaardians possess a seemingly infinite capacity for subterfuge is learned quickly by anyone playing even a modest amount of Gwent. In this case, this subterfuge takes the form of an embassy which is quite blatantly spying upon everything in its immediate vicinity. Leave the Nilfgaardian embassy unchecked for long enough, and soon Nilfgaard will have conducted a thorough surveillance of their foe.

Unless, of course, their embassy should happen to suddenly tranform into a bear for no particular reason. Oh Gwent, never change. (For those of you out of the loop, Bearification is a 6 provision spell that transforms an artifact into an Elder Bear).

Arachne

This card potentially introduces 5 or more engines to the board in one turn, making it able to compete with top-tier Monster engines like Koschey and Gernichora. Arachne also gives you motivation to run Koschey in round 1 or 2 if you really want to hurt your opponent later on. However, since her ability is a deploy effect, it means she doesn’t directly synergize with Caranthir. It would be pretty insane if she did, to be honest.

I set her power to 2, meaning that she can thrive Nekkers on the turn she is played, but not Endrega Larvae. I also gave her 3 armor in order to increase the likelihood that she survives. Sometimes its a bit disappointing that interesting high-end gold cards get removed so fast, since it gives you little time to admire their art.

This card might lead to a gameplan where Caranthir and Koschey are played in round 2, and then a 3 card round 3 with either Dandelion: Poet or Auberon: Conqueror being used to trigger thrives three times in two turns. Scary!

Original art is here.

Empress Ciri

In the Witcher 3 (Spoiler Alert!) there’s an ending where Ciri defeats the white frost and becomes empress of Nilfgaard. Although Nilfgaard has been known to operate in an unethical manner (to put it mildly), someone like Ciri with a compassionate heart and strong will could do a lot of good in such a position of power. Even if becoming empress isn’t strictly what she wants, it’s what the world needs.

In terms of gameplay, Empress Ciri allows Nilfgaardian players to commit their leader abilities much earlier than usual, especially if their opponent hasn’t already used their leader. Although she can be played around to some extent, she still affords the Nilfgaardian player a good deal of control. Defending a bleed, for example? Don’t play Ciri until your opponent passes. Trying to win round 1 on even? Play Ciri before your opponent has a chance to use theirs. Playing enslave 7, you beautiful degenerate? Boom, Empress Ciri.

You get the idea.

Original art is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #6

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

King Demavend

I played through the Thronebreaker game recently. (Not gonna lie, I only did it for the animated Kelltullis and Dagur Two-Blades.) I remember King Demavend being such a chill dude, a true ally of Meve and an all around bro. Now, I usually do a bit of research on a character before making a card out of them because I want to the card ability to match their personality. So when I started reading about King Demavend I was massively surprised to learn that he’d imprisoned and tortured quite a few people and also was responsible for numerous pogroms against the Scoia’tael. Holy shit, dude. Not cool.

Anyway, my idea for this card was to have a unit that produces unique effects based on what targets he boosts. In this case, he synergizes with mages, soldiers, and siege engines all in unique ways. With this design, he synergizes with both Uprising and Vysogota of Corvo. My intention was to reward boosting units in such a way that doesn’t play into Geralt: Yrden and also allows flexibility of gameplan. For example, in round 1 you might play him between two mages in order to build up some sweet carryover. On the other hand, in a long round 3, you can play him to the ranged row to protect siege units while also pining down the enemy for some brutal attrition.

Alseid

CDPR is clearly taking the Scoia’tael “spellatael” archetype in a very different direction from what I would have. Their version focuses on elves and Spells, while I would have envisioned an archetype focusing more heavily on Nature cards and the Symbiosis mechanic. Personally, I like to build upon and add nuance to existing archetypes before creating wholly new ones. Yet, now that part two of the Price of Power has been released, I think I see their logic more clearly. Other than a few cards that miss the mark entirely (particularly Saov Ainmhi’dh), Spelltael seems quite powerful.

In this card, I envision a pointslammy bronze card that adds to Symbiosis and Harald Gord value while also introducing a minor threat to the board. Though fairly easy to remove, the Alseid with trade up versus most removal cards, making it an extremely strong bronze in nature decks.

Original art source is here.

Lyrian Officer

Northern Realms competes with Monsters for the most greedy engine heavy decks in the game. Currently Monsters has them beat just a bit due to cards like Selfeater and The Bloody Mistress, but Northern Realms has some impressive bronze engines such as Reinforced Ballista and Cintrian Artificer that truly give Monsters a run for their money. I’d like to see Northern realms get some stronger bronze engines that synergize heavily with their other engines, allowing them to snowball if left unchecked. In that spirit, I present you Lyrian Officer, who acts as a payoff card for engine heavy decks. Particularly in a long round, this card can reach an extremely high potential value.

Original art source is here.

Alsana Gwyn Crevan

The powerful eleven sorceress hovers in the air, her eyes narrowing as she judges the distance and angle to her target. She takes aim and utters the magic word as the flames well up in her hands. The bolt of flame connects with an arrow midair, converting it to harmless ash before it connects with its intended target. Moments later, a great explosion marks the grave of her human adversary.

She lands lightly on the ground, glancing around quickly. When she is sure that her last foe is vanquished, she breathes a sigh of relief. Her power drains her, but she never lets it show. “Why, oh why, must the humans fight us so?” she wonders, asking a question that will never truly be answered.

From a gameplay perspective, Alsana is a powerful engine with a very high floor. Yet her self-damaging behavior, absence of veil, and tall body mean that she is often an ideal target for Korathi Heatwave. To derive value from her, you’re going to want to either bleed heatwave from your opponent, or queue into a very greedy matchup.

Original art source is here.

Zovik the Mad

There’s a fine line between bravery and madness, between courage and stupidity. Skelligers have never truly found that mark, always erring so far into foolhardiness that one can only gaze in awe at the sheer pluck. Truly, their philosophy showcases the difference between fighting to live and living to fight. For if the violence and chaos of battle are what one lives for, then is it foolish to avoid battle? Even if there were a definitive answer to that question, do you think the Skelligers would care? No! They just fight because they love the clash of steel and smell of blood!

ROOOAAAAARGGGGGHHH!!!!!!!

Original art source is here.

King Radovid V

King Radovid V is truly an excellent villain, as he portrays everything we love to hate. Cold, arrogant, cruel, vindictive, and borderline insane. And most importantly, defeated in the end by our favorite white-haired witcher.

When Radovid returns to Gwent, I’d like to see him at the forefront of the brutal onslaught presented by the Mobilization Revenants archetype. In this card, we see him taking the role as a brutal damage dealer as well as a lock. Since the deck is highly dependent on deathblows, they’ll get a lot of value out of the weakened and muzzled enemies who will become fodder for their endless army of Kadwaeni Revenants. Fight! Maim! Kill!

Svivi Folskar

So, I got in an argument with someone the other day over whether Skellige or Nilfgaard has more tall punish. Of course, Skellige only has a couple tall punish cards (Champion’s Charge, Morkvarg, Hjalmar An Craite) while Nilfgaard has more than they ever need (Vincent Van Moorlehgem, Yennefer’s Invocation, Vilgefortz, Peter Saar, Vanhemar, Poison, Ivar Evil-Eye, Leo Bonhart) so I thought it would be a short argument. After my opponent started claiming that 4 provision raids were a form of tall punish, I stopped tearing out my hair and calmly threw my computer out the window instead. Gotta love Reddit!

Anyway, given SK’s surprising lack of tall punish, I decided to create something that would count as true tall punish while feeling very much like a Skellige card. Behold, I give you Svivi Folskar. Svivi synergizes excellently with Armor Up and Bear Witchers, as well as Patricidal Fury. Patricidal Fury basically enables this as a kill-anything card.

Oh, and Svivi can be tutored by Blood Eagle, replacing the role old Morkvarg: Heart of Terror used to serve before he lost his Warrior tag.

Original art source is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #5

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Triss: Royal Advisor

As an unapologetic and devoted member of Team Triss, I can’t help but notice that Yennefer has four separate Gwent cards, while Triss only has three. In order to remedy this situation, I’ve developed this card which recognizes Triss’ longstanding role as Foltest’s advisor.

Balance wise, the card’s design resembles Amphibious Assault, and has powerful synergies with the newly reworked Cintrian Spellweaver. This card also cements the reliance on core bronze cards which is part of the Northern Realm’s faction identity. Also, she can’t tutor Oneiromancy, which limits her power a bit. The existence of Oneiromancy makes it difficult to make balanced tutors for spell cards, which Triss’ condition neatly sidesteps.

Credit for the art goes to AlienAlly on DeviantArt.

Seduction

We humans have been fascinated with vampires ever since… well, ever since we created them. But what is it about them that we find so compelling? I’ve always felt that their cold, yellow eyes and sharp fangs hiding behind a beautiful face serve as a poetic metaphor for the dangers of a cruel and selfish heart concealed by physical beauty. Thus, there’s a sense in which vampires–far from being confined to myth–are everywhere. Watch out, folks!

In this Gwent card, I’ve attempted to capture the concept of vampiric seduction. This card is balanced relative to cards like Imlerith’s Wrath, Yennefer’s Invocation, and Korathi Heatwave. There’s really two conditions required for this card to achieve full value, since you must control a vampire and also destroy the Human Prey. Therefore, I think the substantial provision discount relative to Heatwave and Yenvo is justified.

Credit for the art goes to CGlas on DeviantArt.

Ivor Breckenriggs

Dwarfs have been a perpetually underpowered archetype for as long as pretty much anyone remembers. A buff here, a tweak there and yet it’s never enough. Dwarfs remain sadly and soundly mired in the bowels of tier 3 and far, far away from the competitive scene. Truly, the state of the Dwarfs archetype stands among life’s little tragedies, unnoticed and forgotten.

Yet, I do dream on occasion of a powerful dwarven deck able to go toe to toe with even the mighty Syndicate, packing tons of proactive points and difficult-to-counter and heavily armored engines. And maybe a smidgen of removal? Hey let’s not get too crazy…

Anyway, Ivor Breckenriggs is the father of Zoltan’s fiance. Clan Breckenriggs is among the wealthiest dwarven clans, and it’s probably about time they received some recognition in Gwent cards.

Credit for the art goes to KilartDev on DeviantArt

Vienne

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Vienne was an elven girl who Lambert and Geralt interrogated at the Seven Cats Inn while tracking down Aiden’s killers. Before her membership in Jad Karadin’s gang, she was a Scoia’tael guerilla, though her unit was eventually decimated, which led her becoming an assassin. Though she’s only a minor NPC in a side quest from the Witcher 3, I’ve found her character to be quite interesting, more than deserving of a Gwent card.

Balance wise, Vienne acts as a payoff for unitless Scoia’tael decks, allowing them to clean up a large number of weak units while also synergizing with Dol Blathanna Sentry and Sabrecat. In many cases, she competes with Schirru for value, having a much higher floor but also a lower ceiling.

Credit for the art goes to Linda Lithen, who can be found on ArtStation here.

Penny Styles

CDPR has made a few feeble attempts to assemble a pirate archetype within Skellige, but nary a one at establishing the Syndicate Tidecloaks archetype. Personally, I think that Syndicate pirates could actually be quite compelling, provided they receive a few more core golds.

This card is quite interesting, as it allows you to replay bronze crimes from your graveyard. This can have interesting effects, such as converting Dip in the Pontar into a 6-power removal tool, and allowing same turn removals with Fisstech. Alright, I admit that this card isn’t really balanced, but I think it would be reasonable if its cooldown were increased to 2 or 3. Personally, I’d like to see more support for the “slow” engine tags such as Harmony, Resupply, and Intimidate, which is what motivated me to create this card.

Credit for the art goes to mist XG on ArtStation.

Lonely Axeman

There are still a few of us who remember when An Craite Greatswords were more than just the optimal Megascope target. Back in the day, you’d make sure to get last say so you could play one from hand and then play Morkvarg: Heart of Terror from your graveyard with Second Wind. If the enemy controlled a highly boosted unit–Ozzrel, for example–you were pretty much guaranteed a win. In those days, Greatswords acted as a payoff card for what Skellige does best: damaging units. A payoff for which they are now sorely lacking. Honestly, 10-for-6 is a rather poor payoff for something so closely tied to Skellige’s faction identity.

But I digress. This card is intentionally reminiscent of old style Greatswords, allowing players to gain significant points provided they are prepared to deal heavy damage. Their veil prevents them from being locked or poisoned–which are really just ways for the enemy to cheesily deny you points that you rightfully earned. Thus, the card is reminiscent of Ancient Foglet, which gives a similar payoff to the Monsters faction for generating weather. Ideally, this card acts as a 3-point-per-turn engine when the devotion condition is met, which synergizes wonderfully with Harald An Craite‘s final form.

The original art source for this one was tricky to pin down, but I finally discovered that the work is titled Viking Repose and was created by one Seb McKinnon.

The Putrid Grove

The Putrid Grove first appeared in the Witcher 3, sought by Geralt in his quest to find and help Triss Merigold. The Putrid Grove served as the headquarters of the King of Beggars as well as a sanctuary for the mages of Novigrad who were now relentlessly persecuted by witch hunters. That Triss would appear here instead of at the side of great monarch only served to show how far the Eternal Fire’s all-consuming hatred and zealotry had spread. For shame, Novigrad!

This card is the latest in a series I’ve been doing of high-provision artifacts, one for each faction. (You may recall Ancient Sarcophagus and Gnomish Forge from previous weekly recaps). My intention is to design powerful artifacts that generate value over time that trade up versus heatwave. In this case, the artifact rewards an almost coinless playstyle for Syndicate, with deliberate antisynergies with Jackpot, the dominant SY deck. The card provides an extremely enticing 2-point-per-turn engine which lasts over 2 rounds. Of course, the downside is that it forces players to spend all their coins at the end of each turn, which drastically reduces the versatility that is one of Syndicate’s greatest strengths.

Credit for the art goes to MarkusML on DeviantArt.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #4

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Coup D'etat

Empires have battled each other for supremacy for untold centuries, and men have plotted their downfall for just as long. The fact that a single human can pose a threat to an entire empire is an unfortunate consequence of the centralization of power. The saying “a single death changes everything” is true indeed. And nobody understands this better than Nilfgaard.

This scenario for Nilfgaard attempts to support the Spying archetype and features a rework for Assassination. It also supports assimilate and tactics, to a degree. It’s even possible to finish the scenario in one turn by using a spy to tutor a card that plays another spy, such as Braathens. In most cases, it plays for a minimum of 15 points, though it puts two engines on the board and therefore has a potentially higher ceiling.

The art used by the card is promotional art for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Shupe

The familiar and lovable keg-obsessed rock troll poses a serious threat to your opponent’s victory in this card, which becomes stronger with each passing round provided you’ve met his unique deck condition. I’ve always found Shupe’s deck condition to be quite interesting, but the payoff for Shupe’s Day Off is sadly underwhelming. This version of Shupe is considerably stronger, and makes the payoff more worthwhile. By the time he reaches his third form, your opponent has little to do but watch in horror as your beautiful Shupe meme plays out uninterrupted, spawning up to three Kegs on the board for unpredictable RNG goodness. Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupe! Shuuuuuupe! Shuuuuuuuuupe!

The resilience on the Kegs might be a bit much, in hindsight. Oh well.

Art source is linked here.

Gather by Moonlight

On a cold, clear moonlit night you may hear singular unearthly sounds as nocturnal beings gather for their accursed feast. Vampires! Whether gathering in an old shed, a subterranean cavern, or a sumptuous palace, vampires prefer to consume blood in great quantity and under the cover of darkness. This holds true even for higher vampires who can tolerate the light of the sun.

This scenario serves the vampire archetype by providing several sources of bleeding, plus a single use of bronze tall removal. Having this scenario on the board may force the opponent to delay playing their bronze engines, which will only make the vampires that much more oppressive. I chose the last stage of the scenario carefully, in order to provide vampires with something they lacked: tall punish. At the same time, I wanted to avoid the pitfall where scenarios simply play a handful of different bronze cards. As you’ll notice, this scenario only spawns one bronze card, while the other two effects are more unique.

Credit for the art goes to Steven Stahlberg, on DeviantArt.

Gnomish Workshop

Strange as it may seem, the finest smiths in Mahakam are not dwarves but gnomes. In fact, the finest blades–called Gwyhyrs–are forged according to advanced Gnomish technology. Thus it is that Gnomes are behind much of what is apparently dwarven technology.

This card supports the dwarf archetype massively, making dwarven units much harder to remove than they otherwise would be. In addition, its resilience makes it useful across multiple rounds. Dwarf decks sometimes struggle in short rounds, which makes them vulnerable to a bleed. A card like this would address this issue quite effectively, by giving dwarven engines a substantial edge for two entire rounds.

Credit for the art goes to Todor Hristov, found on Artstation.

Sea'ala

Long ago in an age enshrouded in mist and myth, legends tell of a powerful Gwent archetype known as Harmony. In those ancient days, players could replay the Water of Brokilon card twice, placing 4 engines on the board in a single turn. Though this technique has been lost to time, there are still those who dream of a return of Harmony–and with it, Scoia’tael–to its rightful place at tier 1.

Sea’ala supports harmony by allowing human and elf units to trigger harmony and then become harmony engines themselves, thus paving the way for more harmony triggers down the road. She’s designed to support Harmony in a manner analogous to the way Koschey supports thrive. Interestingly, Sea’ala would allow Deadeye Ambush to become a Harmony leader, as the spawned elves can be transformed into Dryad Fledglings.

The original source for the art is here, on Artstation.

Radegast

Skellige cards are typically divided between druid-themed alchemy cards and damage-oriented warrior cards. For the most part, the two archetypes rarely meet in the middle. After all, druids are mainly focused on boost and healing, while warriors deal pure damage. CDPR has made some attempt to unite the two archetypes with the recent rain package, but this card takes it a step further by encouraging players to play two different types of specials in their decks.

Radegast rewards players for including both raids and alchemy cards in their deck. By playing a single raid followed by several alchemy cards, players can generate significant carryover and maintain a presence through multiple rounds. Radegast’s ceiling is quite high, but he requires a significant deckbuilding commitment to reach his full value.

The original source for the art appears to be DeviantArt.

Borch Three Jackdaws

Introduced in Andrzej Sapkowski’s short story The Bounds of Reason, Borch Three Jackdaws was the name used by Villentretenmerth while in human form. His true form, it was revealed, was that of a mighty golden dragon. It was only when this form was revealed that Geralt understood why Vea had called him “the most beautiful”.

Borch was known for his female companions Tea and Vea–who he referred to as his “weapons”. I think that Borch truly deserves a dedicated card, just like his daughter Saesenthessis. After all, he’s one of the only golden dragons in the entire witcher universe, alongside Zerrikanterment.

The version of Borch showcased here allows you to tutor the highest provision cost unit from your deck, while adding an additional 6 points of tempo to the play. Obviously the downside to this play is that it requires an enemy unit of 2 or less strength, which may not be easy to obtain. I almost made it say “highest card” but that would end up making the card merely a tutor for Oneiromancy, which isn’t what I intended.

The art here is by Nastya Kulakovskaya, from Artstation.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #3

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Stealth Archer

Guerilla forces know they would be decimated if they met their foes on the open battlefield. For this reason, they remain hidden anywhere nature presents cover – behind rocks, in trees, or even buried among the very leaves on the ground. Arrows whiz by seemingly out of nowhere, picking off the enemy one by one.

This card expands upon the concept of invisibility, and cannot be answered by the opponent for 2 turns unless it is pinged. It’s a fairly powerful engine that can reach its ceiling of roughly 12 points much more quickly than most other cards of this type. The downside, however, is that it is quite fragile and its initial tempo is poor.

Credit for the art goes to Jack Wang. Original art is available on Artstation here.

Khagmar: Bloodlust

Driven by his unquenchable thirst for human blood, Khagmar would harvest entire villages of humans in a single night. Yet the terror he inspired came back to haunt him, as the humans began an organized campaign of hunting vampires. Though not a direct threat, other higher vampires became annoyed and determined to punish Khagmar by tormenting him with perpetual hunger. Khagmar spent years, decades, and then centuries trapped within a cage in Tesham Mutna, ever tormented by the scent of fresh human blood he could never obtain.

Many people have called for Khagmar to appear in Gwent, so I present to you Khagmar: Bloodlust. This card is an extremely greedy engine that can be countered in advance by not playing units to both rows. Though threatening, Khagmar needs to drain 4 units on the turn he is played to escape from standard removal range, and drain 5 units to pay back his provisions. Once he sticks, however, he becomes an extremely aggressive and dangerous engine. Woe betide the opponent who has no answer!

Credit for the art goes to LoranDeSore, and the original source is here.

Wild Goose Chase

This card provides SY with high-tempo tall punish, but there’s a catch. Wild Goose Chase requires you to boost one of your own units, which gives the opponent a chance to answer with tall punish of their own. To help the card compare favorably with cards such as Heatwave, I added the echo tag. Overall, I think it’s a strong card, but it’s not a substitute for cards like Morelse or Heatwave.

Truly, non-removal tall punish is a concept that CDPR could explore more fully, especially for devotion decks. Non-removal tall punish requires more careful thought regarding its use, and is less oppressive against Blue coin.

Credit for the art goes to Rudy Siswanto, whose art I also used for the card Ilya the Merc in last week’s custom card series.

Red Widow

Many people are frustrated with clog and its ability to completely disrupt their gameplan. Quite a few have suggested that clog could shuffle cards into the deck instead of placing them on top. I’m not completely against this idea, but if this plan is executed then Kolgrim players need better ways to play cards like Infiltrator. I’ve experimented with Infiltrator quite a bit and my experience is that the card simply isn’t worth it.

This card addresses the above issue by allowing the player to deal 6 targeted damage and spawn up to 3 Infiltrators. With the proper setup, it can play for 21 points, which is a lot but not unreasonable for a 13 provision card. Without setup, Red Widow plays as a 13-for-13 card with substantial removal potential. A solid card, but not overpowered. Her real potential lies in synergy with tactics engines like Hefty Helge and Fire Scorpion.

One issue with the card is that Infiltrators should ideally be played in round 1, yet it’s usually not ideal to play 13-provision cards this early in the game. Personally, I don’t believe that every card needs to be perfect in every situation. I see this card as extremely strong when pushing a round 2 bleed or attempting to win on even under redcoin.

Original art can be found here.

Boarding Party

Arrrrrrr me matey, I spy a ship on yon horizon! And a piratey expansion for Skellige! Arrr, maybe!

This card’s got a little bit of it all: pirates, rain, bleeding, ship synergy, and even seizing that sweet booty. Until now, Seize has remained in the territory of Nilfgaard and Syndicate, but I think that it would find a welcome home within the budding pirate archetype of Skellige.

Skellige’s reliable access to cheap and efficient damage should ensure that the last stage of the scenario rarely bricks. While Nilfgaard often struggles to find targets for 3-power seize cards such as Amnesty and Sweers, I wager that Skellige would actually make highly effective use of such a mechanic.

Credit for the art goes to Shen Fei. Here’s his Artstation.

Ancient Sarcophagus

This card supports bronze deathwish cards by allowing a single bronze deathwish unit to be triggered multiple times. The ability mainly synergizes with cards like Harpy Egg and Rotfiend, but not so much with cards like Nightwraith and Endrega Eggs, which would merely clog the board. It also makes it more difficult for bronze cards like Slyzard to be removed, as it summons them back to the board.

This card is also a potential Heatwave target. Although it almost always trades down with Heatwave, it might still be worth it. Deciding whether to heatwave something that will trade down is the type of decision that makes Gwent so interesting.

I should also point out that the card synergizes unbelievably well with Glustyworp, which can be used to consume all the 1-power targets at once. Just thinking about such a chad move has me hyped for this card.

Credit to the original artist (Anton Fedotov) is here.

Pogrom

Paranoia. Fear. Suspicion. Blame. These are the hallmarks of a society that is on the verge of breakdown. Torches and pitchforks are raised, accusations hurled. Soon, homes are invaded, men are trampled and burnt at stake, and law and order no longer represent justice but rather the will of the bloodthirsty mob. This is the nightmare scenario with which wizards, witches and members of the Scoia’tael in and around Novigrad have become all too familiar.

This scenario would add massive support for the Witch Hunter and Bounty archetype. In particular, this scenario allows for back-to-back same turn removals with Bounty. Witch Hunter Executioner is the ideal trigger for the first stage, as the bounty can be applied and cashed in on the same turn very easily. For the next stage, any witch hunter that applies bounty can allow for instant 6-point removal. Brutal!

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the original art source for this card.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #2

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Jailbreak

This is a card that plays off of one of Syndicate’s greatest strengths: versatility. It’s reminiscent of Collusion, yet can achieve full value on an empty board or with minimal setup. It also encourages diversity in deckbuilding, since having a variety of bronze units from different gangs in your graveyard allows you to choose the exact effect needed. For example, if you need more crownsplitters for tunnel drill, you can Jailbreak a Coerced Blacksmith from your graveyard. Need raw tempo and a spender? Jailbreak into Sea Jackal‘s got your back. Accidentally drew an odd number of poisons? Resurrect a Salamandra. You get the idea.

The original artist is a chap by the name of Jesper Ejsing. His art is visible on artstation, linked here. In the uncropped art, it looks like a dude on a dragon is breaking an eleven lady out of jail. I could be wrong, though. Maybe he’s attacking her? I don’t really know.

Ilya the Merc

Whenever I play bounty, I find it’s pretty easy to overprofit from killing a tall unit, or simply from having too many coins in the bank. Ilya allows you more breathing room when handling bounties, and provides a payoff for killing units with greater than 9 points of base strength. Her order ability isn’t extremely strong, but it can gain her an extra 3 points if she destroys the Flying Redanian. It can also give extra reach to damage spenders.
 
I’ve determined that a fellow named Rudy Siswanto is the original artist. You can find his Artstation account here. He’s quite talented, so I suggest you check it out. He appears to have done the art for Protofleder. Pretty cool. 

Grottore

Grottore appeared in the Witcher 3 as the boss during the quest Feet as Cold as Ice. Although he’s just another quest boss, I found him to be quite interesting and memorable. He seemed to have a bit of personality, collecting random stuff in his cave and killing off those insufferable knights of Croissant… I mean Toussaint.

It’s been a while since deathwish was a viable archetype in the Monsters faction, outside of Viy. Personally, I’d like to see it make a comeback, as yeeting enemy units with Imperial Manticore and yoinking them with Miruna is simply too much fun. This card acts as a companion to Dettlaff: Higher Vampire, providing a similar high tempo play. Due to the Sabbath condition, you can choose whether you want to summon the deathwish unit from your graveyard or deck. Summoning from the deck is usually better, as it provides thinning and also avoids the possibility of summoning a bricked Archespore.

Original art source is here. On second thought, let’s not go to DeviantArt. ‘Tis a silly place.

Nightshade

The seconds tick by, stretching into minutes and then hours. The sun sets and the moon rises while Nightshade waits for the perfect opportunity. Late in the night her victim steals by, convinced that he is secure under the cover of darkness. He is wrong. A blade flashing in the moonlight and an eerie silence are the only clues that Nightshade has done her work. The corpse is dragged into a nearby alleyway and disposed in a sewer, never to be seen again. Another clean kill.

I don’t think anything captures assassination any better than a unit leaping from the top of a Nilfgaard player’s deck to destroy a unit the opponent played. It’s so elegant and unexpected, and fits in perfectly with the deck manipulation theme that CDPR has chosen to take with Nilfgaard. I’d love to see a card like this in play, though to be on the receiving end especially would be pretty rage inducing.

The card art in this case was designed by an artist called AReum Kim. Additional renders of Nightshade can be found here.

Mercurus

One of the problems with trap cards is that they tend to punish the player for playing high cost cards. The result is that traps can easily be avoided by simply playing low cost cards. There need to be more traps that punish the player for playing low cost cards. It’s this observation that lead me to create Mercurus, which acts in a manner similar to a trap card, and penalizes the opponent for playing a low provision card. If your opponent has Red coin (goes second) and repeatedly plays weak cards, Mercurus can be used to set up a tempo pass, forcing a long round with Masquerade Ball.

With Nightshade and Mercurus in the same deck, you can put the opponent in a situation where they don’t know whether to play a high end gold or a low prov bronze. Mind games!

Also, this card’s flavortext is oddly appropriate as playing a 10 provision or higher card causes Mercurus to destroy himself. If he were added to Gwent, it’d be cool if he had a special voiceline that triggered only if he was destroyed. A long, drawn out “Noooooooooooo!” is exactly the sort of thing that Gwent needs more of.

I wasn’t able to track down the original art source, though it looks like it appeared on the cover a DnD book at some point.

Surprise

This card acts as potentially 6+ removal, while also setting up your deck for some manipulation. A downside of this card is that the damage dealt may reveal the card moved to the top. For me, this card is on the edge of being able to be bronze. As long as there aren’t too many agents with 7+ strength, it’s probably safe to make it bronze. 6 prov is a neglected range anyway. What’s cool about this card for me is its flexibility. It can act as removal, deck manipulation, and soft tutoring.

I was going to make it able to move any unit, but I don’t think we need any more ways to abuse Tibor Eggebracht than than already exist. 13 damage on a 6 prov card would be pretty broken.

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how hilarious this art is? This dude is just chilling and writing some shit down while this assassin girl stands behind him with the most mischevious expression on her face. Poor dude’s about to get bellclapped with a pair of daggers. Ouch.

This appears to be the original art source, though I’m told this art was used to advertise an expansion for Elder Scrolls Online.

Vanmuutugleek

I’ve always found life deep in the ocean to possess a singularly bizarre majesty. I imagine the witcher universe is no different, with great monstrosities like Dagon and Vanmuutugleek hidden beneath the waves, living far outside the ken of man.

I came across this beautiful squid art and instantly knew I had to make a Gwent card out of it. It was pretty obviously monsters faction material, so I came up with an ability designed specifically to synergize with Koschey thrive decks. I’ve played Koschey a fair number of times, and the two biggest issues are choosing what to play before Koschey’s adrenaline kicks in and getting stuck with monsters that can’t proc thrive. This card is designed to solve both issues.

I’ve also introduced a new status, called Invisibility. Invisibility acts as temporary immunity, and is countered by ping damage. Invisibility allows low-strength order cards and engines to be viable, without being completely unanswerable or hard countering decks which rely on pure damage such as Skellige Warriors.

The card art is unfortunately a cropped version of the original, which can be found here. Mark Facey is the original artist.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #1

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Renfri: Bandit Queen

I think it’s only fair to begin this series with Renfri herself, one of the most memorable foes Geralt of Rivia ever faced. As a talented swordswoman and intelligent adversary, she gave Geralt a run for his money in more ways than one. Not only did she prove a capable foe in combat, she also challenged his conceptions of morality, forcing Geralt to choose–to the best of his understanding–the lesser evil.

As a Gwent card, I envision Renfri as the lynchpin of the underdeveloped Bandit archetype. She provides a substantial payoff by summoning bandits to the board that were played in previous rounds. All hail the Queen of the Bandits!

Graverobber

So, y’all are gonna hate this card for what it does to Oneiromancy, but I honestly kinda miss the old bullshit Nilfgaard that made you want to tear your hair out.

For reference, the old Nilfgaard was the one that had locks, tactics and poison for days, double Masquerade Ball, and lousy pointslam and even lousier engines. Maybe a year ago, it was pretty normal to queue into Nilfgaard and accept that your first few cards were gonna get yeeted by Tourney Joust and Assassination. They made redcoin abuse into a freaking art.

The new Nilfgaard is actually pretty greedy and doesn’t run that many locks. It also only runs a couple poisons, and even has a fair amount of points after you heatwave their ball. It always wants a long round and plays tons of assimilate. Assimilate used to be a meme, goddammit.

Sigh.

Anyhoo, this guy steals your oneiromancy and synergizes with Joachim DeWett. Deal with it.

Dagon

Although I didn’t play Gwent during the beta when Dagon reigned in all his power and glory, I’ve learned of him from other players and am impressed by the aura of reverence he commands even in absence.

This version of Dagon is potentially a 4 point per turn engine that keeps spawning Fog on enemy rows as long as their units keep dying. However, he might be a touch underpowered compared to cards like Unseen Elder and Dettlaff, who play equal to their provisions much more easily. It’s probably reasonable to buff him to 8 strength, or to increase the initial fog duration from 1 to 2 turns.

King Henselt

I recently read about 40-card Foltest and was inspired to make a card that motivated players to add more than 25 cards to their deck in a similar way. This is what I came up with.

Henselt boosts bronze units in your hands by 4, essentially turning a number of bronze cards in gold cards in a manner similar to Amphibious Assault. You gain charges by converting 8-10 prov cards in your deck into multiple 4-5 prov cards. Immunity both serves to protect Henselt and makes it very difficult for him to gain charges through Stockpile, Winch, or Aretuza Adept, which is not his intended use. Also, you can’t boost gold units which prevents him from bolstering already powerful golds like Prince Anseis, Anna Strenger, or Vysogota.

I didn’t give him zeal since he has immunity, so make sure you play around Curse of Corruption and Predatory Dive and you’ll be fine.

Drogodar

You may recall that Drogodar was the bard who played at the ill-fated feast hosted at Kaer Trolde during King’s Gambit in the Witcher 3. He, along with a number of other Skelligers, was eaten by a werebear which is honestly a pretty badass way to die.

This card allows Skellige to replay high end gold cards from their graveyard in a manner reminiscent of the old Second Wind leader ability. However, he’s somewhat low tempo and only plays for 5 points unless he discards a Tuirseach Skirmisher.

Elven Princess

This card acts as a bridge between the elf and handbuff archetypes. I really like “bridge” cards because they can be used in more than one type of deck and encourage creativity. Currently, Nilfgaard has the most bridge cards, since there’s tons of connections between Spies, Assimilate, Status, Tactics, Deck Manipulation, and Soldiers. Take Rot Tosser, for example. It supports Assimilate, Status, and Spies. Personally, I’d like to see more bridge cards in other factions.

Power wise, this card might seem a little OP, but it’s 2 provisions more than Isengrim and plays into tall punish. Elves don’t normally play into tall punish, so I think you would essentially only run this card to buff Aglais or Sheldon Skaggs. Additionally, this card is quite low tempo after her boosts are transferred as only a meager 4 points remain on the board.

Sasha

A lot of factions now have the ability to build hyperthin decks that end up with only a small number of cards by the end of round 3. Nilfgaard has Kolgrim, SK has the Discard package, and ST has Precision Strike + Novigradian Justice. I’d like to see a neutral card that rewards these decks with some form of payoff, which is why I created Sasha.

Balancing a card like Sasha is difficult, since she has to have a meaningful payoff for hyperthin decks without being viable in ordinary decks. In this case, I chose to keep her at 9 provisions to allow her to synergize with Ciri: Nova while also requiring a significant commitment in terms of provisions.